Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sun Setting Over a Lake by J. M. W. Turner (1775–1851)

Sun Setting Over a Lake

John Ashbery - Two Poems

The Painter
Sitting between the sea and the buildings
He enjoyed painting the sea’s portrait.
But just as children imagine a prayer
Is merely silence, he expected his subject
To rush up the sand, and, seizing a brush,
Plaster its own portrait on the canvas.

So there was never any paint on his canvas
Until the people who lived in the buildings
Put him to work: “Try using the brush
As a means to an end. Select, for a portrait,
Something less angry and large, and more subject
To a painter’s moods, or, perhaps, to a prayer.”

How could he explain to them his prayer
That nature, not art, might usurp the canvas?
He chose his wife for a new subject,
Making her vast, like ruined buildings,
As if, forgetting itself, the portrait
Had expressed itself without a brush.

Slightly encouraged, he dipped his brush
In the sea, murmuring a heartfelt prayer:
“My soul, when I paint this next portrait
Let it be you who wrecks the canvas.”
The news spread like wildfire through the buildings:
He had gone back to the sea for his subject.

Imagine a painter crucified by his subject!
Too exhausted even to lift his brush,
He provoked some artists leaning from the buildings
To malicious mirth: “We haven’t a prayer
Now, of putting ourselves on canvas,
Or getting the sea to sit for a portrait!”

Others declared it a self-portrait.
Finally all indications of a subject
Began to fade, leaving the canvas
Perfectly white. He put down the brush.
At once a howl, that was also a prayer,
Arose from the overcrowded buildings.

They tossed him, the portrait, from the tallest of the buildings;
And the sea devoured the canvas and the brush
As though his subject had decided to remain a prayer.

Just Walking Around
What name do I have for you?
Certainly there is not name for you
In the sense that the stars have names
That somehow fit them. Just walking around,

An object of curiosity to some,
But you are too preoccupied
By the secret smudge in the back of your soul
To say much and wander around,

Smiling to yourself and others.
It gets to be kind of lonely
But at the same time off-putting.
Counterproductive, as you realize once again

That the longest way is the most efficient way,
The one that looped among islands, and
You always seemed to be traveling in a circle.
And now that the end is near

The segments of the trip swing open like an orange.
There is light in there and mystery and food.
Come see it.
Come not for me but it.
But if I am still there, grant that we may see each other.

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Louise Gluck - Three Poems

First Memory
Long ago, I was wounded. I lived
to revenge myself
against my father, not
for what he was--
for what I was: from the beginning of time,
in childhood, I thought
that pain meant
I was not loved.
It meant I loved.

Speak to me, aching heart: what
Ridiculous errand are you inventing for yourself
Weeping in the dark garage
With your sack of garbage: it is not your job
To take out the garbage, it is your job
To empty the dishwasher. You are showing off
Exactly as you did in childhood--where
Is your sporting side, your famous
Ironic detachment? A little moonlight hits
The broken window, a little summer moonlight,
Murmurs from the earth with its ready
Is this the way you communicate
With your husband, not answering
When he calls, or is this the way the heart
Behaves when it grieves: it wants to be
Alone with the garbage? If I were you,
I'd think ahead. After fifteen years,
His voice could be getting tired; some night
If you don't answer, someone else will answer.

—After Robert Pinsky

Defier of closed space, such as the head, opener
Of the sealed passageways, so that
Sunlight entering the nose can once again

Exit the ear, vaporizer, mist machine, whose
Soft hiss sounds like another human being

But less erratic, more stable, or, if not like a human being,
Carried by one, by my mother to the sick chamber
Of my childhood — as Freud said,

Why are you always sick, Louise? his cigar
Confusing mist with smoke, interfering
With healing—Embodied

Summoner of these ghosts, white plastic tub with your elegant
Clear tub, the water sanitized by boiling,
Sterile, odorless,

In my mother’s absence
Run by me, the one machine

I understand: what
Would life be if we could not buy
Objects to care for us

And bear them home, away from the druggists’ pity,
If we could not carry in our own arms
Alms, alchemy, to the safety of our bedrooms,
If there were no more

Sounds in the night, continuous
Hush, hush of warm steam, not
Like human breath though regular, if there were nothing in the world

More hopeful than the self,
Soothing it, wishing it well.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Three Poems by Hsia Yü

To Be Elsewhere
We met in a coastal village
spent a lovely night without leaving an address
going separate ways. Three years later
we meet again by coincidence.
The whole
three years spun a novel
we abandoned:
They fail to recognize themselves
as though meeting in another story
for an encounter.
One asks: Who are you, so cold and weary
The other says: I only know a thread is loose on my sweater
            The more you pull it, the more it lengthens
            until I completely vanish.

-- Source: Poetry (June 2011)

Cinema Is Superseding the Gaze
All you have to do is find yourself some amateur actors
And a bargain-basement video cam
That can film in natural light and ambient sound
Your actors don’t even have to act
In fact you’re better off
If they just glance now and then at the camera
And move around a bit
Exchanging the occasional line of conversation
We have all the time in the world
For we’re making a road movie
And it should be pretty good
Turns out one of the actors is seriously narcoleptic
Which is why we have this baby alarm

— from Poetry Now 10, translated by Steve Bradbury

The Saw
I visualize you walking on the other side from me
In our scanty understanding of the universe
We propose a simple definition
Which we call “the time difference”
Whenever I feel delicious or defeated
In the watery regions of the night
We author our “form and meter”
Like the cardinal principles
Certain schools of painting have long advanced
Pressing myself against the dark
I continue my contemplation of a kind of saw-tooth-shaped truth

I engage in the contemplation
Of serration
An opened can for instance
My contemplation of the can goes thus:
The opening of a can turns
Upon a kind of saw-tooth-shaped truth

I contemplate but then I sleep
Sleep being an ancient practice
Older than civilization
Older yet than poetry
I sit and puzzle over it for hours
Resolved to not resist it

I contemplate sleep
When like a saw
I drag myself awake

I contemplate the saw

-- From the Chinese by Steve Bradbury
From the collection FUSION KITSCH

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Art of Jean-Michel Basquiat

Trailer for the film The Radiant Child directed by Tamra Davis

Cadillac Moon

Electric Chair

Slave Auction

Dos Cabezas
Arroz Con Pollo

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Three Poems by Wallace Stevens (1879-1955)

Wallace Stevens

Study of Two Pears
Opusculum paedagogum. 
The pears are not viols, 
Nudes or bottles. 
They resemble nothing else. 

They are yellow forms 
Composed of curves 
Bulging toward the base. 
They are touched red. 

They are not flat surfaces 
Having curved outlines. 
They are round 
Tapering toward the top. 

In the way they are modelled 
There are bits of blue. 
A hard dry leaf hangs 
From the stem. 

The yellow glistens. 
It glistens with various yellows, 
Citrons, oranges and greens 
Flowering over the skin. 

The shadows of the pears 
Are blobs on the green cloth. 
The pears are not seen 
As the observer wills. 

Six Significant Landscapes
An old man sits
In the shadow of a pine tree
In China.
He sees larkspur,
Blue and white,
At the edge of the shadow,
Move in the wind.
His beard moves in the wind.
The pine tree moves in the wind.
Thus water flows
Over weeds.

The night is of the colour
Of a woman's arm:
Night, the female,
Fragrant and supple,
Conceals herself.
A pool shines,
Like a bracelet
Shaken in a dance.

I measure myself
Against a tall tree.
I find that I am much taller,
For I reach right up to the sun,
With my eye;
And I reach to the shore of the sea
With my ear.
Nevertheless, I dislike
The way ants crawl
In and out of my shadow.

When my dream was near the moon,
The white folds of its gown
Filled with yellow light.
The soles of its feet
Grew red.
Its hair filled
With certain blue crystallizations
From stars,
Not far off.

Not all the knives of the lamp-posts,
Nor the chisels of the long streets,
Nor the mallets of the domes
And high towers,
Can carve
What one star can carve,
Shining through the grape-leaves.

Rationalists, wearing square hats,
Think, in square rooms,
Looking at the floor,
Looking at the ceiling.
They confine themselves
To right-angled triangles.
If they tried rhomboids,
Cones, waving lines, ellipses --
As, for example, the ellipse of the half-moon --
Rationalists would wear sombreros.

Domination of Black

At night, by the fire,
The colors of the bushes
And of the fallen leaves,
Repeating themselves,
Turned in the room,
Like the leaves themselves
Turning in the wind.
Yes: but the color of the heavy hemlocks
Came striding.
And I remembered the cry of the peacocks.

The colors of their tails
Were like the leaves themselves
Turning in the wind,
In the twilight wind.
They swept over the room,
Just as they flew from the boughs of the hemlocks
Down to the ground.
I heard them cry -- the peacocks.
Was it a cry against the twilight
Or against the leaves themselves
Turning in the wind,
Turning as the flames
Turned in the fire,
Turning as the tails of the peacocks
Turned in the loud fire,
Loud as the hemlocks
Full of the cry of the peacocks?
Or was it a cry against the hemlocks?

Out of the window,
I saw how the planets gathered
Like the leaves themselves
Turning in the wind.
I saw how the night came,
Came striding like the color of the heavy hemlocks
I felt afraid.
And I remembered the cry of the peacocks.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Ernst Kirchner (1880-1938)

Ernst Kirchner

"A painter paints the appearance of things, not their objective correctness, in fact he creates new appearances of things."

Dancers in Red

Naked Playing People

Cafe Garden

Nude with Japanese Parasol


Sitting Woman

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Art of Zinaida Serebriakova (1884-1967)

Zinaida Serebriakova with two of her children

Self Portrait At the Dressing-Table

Bleaching of Linen
Peasant Woman Sleeping

Reclining Nude
Self Portrait
Portrait by the Artist
House of Cards
Portrait of the Artist's Daughter
Self Portrait

Bather Self Portrait
Sleeping Nude
Dreaming Nude

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Selected Russian Animation

The Bremen Musicians (Part 1)
**Note: Turn on cc for English translation if it fails to start automatically.**

The Bremen Musicians (Part 2)
**Note: Turn on cc for English translation if it fails to start automatically.**

The Bremen Musicians (Part 3)
**Note: Turn on cc for English translation if it fails to start automatically.**

The Mermaid
"РУСАЛКА" Александр Петров / Alexander Petrov

The Scarlet Flower

Before going on an overseas journey, a merchant father asks his three daughters what they would like him to bring back for them. The eldest asks for a shining tiara, the middle asks for a frame through which her face would always appear young, and the youngest (Nastenka) asks her father to bring her a beautiful scarlet flower like one which she saw in her dreams. Her elder sisters laugh at this simple wish.
The father's trip is successful and he finds everything that he came for, with the exception of Nastenka's scarlet flower. Nevertheless, the ship heaves off and they begin to head back while the father scans the lands around him for a scarlet flower.
A storm strikes and the father is washed overboard. He wakes up on a strange island which is full of all sorts of wonders. He explores, and eventually finds a flower just like the one Nastenka described. The instant that he plucks it, however, a great storm comes upon him and the owner of the island - a hideous monster - makes his presence known. He tells the father that he will let him keep the flower, but in return he must send one of his daughters to live with him. The father refuses, and the monster gives him a ring, telling him that whoever puts it on will be teleported back to the island, and that if his daughter doesn't come then he himself must come and be killed.
In the morning, the crewmembers of the father's ship (who had been searching for him) see him on the island and rescue him. Back home, the father prepares to put on the ring and meet his fate. However, Nastenka overhears a conversation where he reveals this to his friend and secretly puts on the ring herself.
There, she expects to be killed but instead finds herself on a beautiful island and welcomed for by a kind, unseen host. She accidentally catches a glimpse of him eventually, and is mortally scared at first. He allows her to go home to visit her family, but tells her that she must come back by putting on the ring by 8pm or he will die of loneliness.
Nastenka comes home dressed in splendid clothes and with presents for her sisters. Her sisters, however, become jealous and secretly turn all of the clocks in the house back two hours. Nastenka looks outside and hears the clock chiming 9pm, and quickly goes back, only to find the monster near death. She is very saddened and vows to never leave him again, and with those words the scarlet flower which she holds reattaches itself to its original stem and the island fills with light again. The monster turns into a handsome prince and explains that he was under the spell of a witch from which he could only be freed from if he won over the heart of a lady while being in the body of a hideous monster.
Katerok - The Little Ship


The Christmas Story (Part 1)

29 Art Quotations

Mont Sainte-Victoire by Cezanne

1. I do not literally paint that table, but the emotion it produces upon me. (Matisse)

2. So I said to myself, I'll paint what I see-what the flower is to me but I'll paint it big and they will be surprised into taking the time to look at it-I will make even busy New Yorkers take time to see what I see of flowers. (Georgia O'Keeffe)

3. Painting from nature is not copying the object; it is realizing one's sensations. (Paul Cezanne)

4. Man needs colour to live; it's just as necessary an element as fire and water. (Fernand Leger)

5. Choose only one master.. Nature. (Rembrandt)

6. I'm just interested in meditating on certain ideas, and I like to draw: that's my way of thinking. (Ben Nicholson)

7. It is a widely accepted notion among painters that it does not matter what one paints as long as it is well painted. This is the essence of academicism. There is no such thing as good painting about nothing. (Mark Rothko) 

8. Happiness is an angel with a serious face. (Amedeo Modigliani)

9. I paint very large pictures. I realize that historically the function of painting large pictures is painting something very grandiose and pompous. The reason I paint them, however – I think it applies to other painters I know – is precisely because I want to be very intimate and human. To paint a small picture is to place yourself outside your experience. However you paint the larger picture, you are in it. (Mark Rothko) 

10. Practice what you know, and it will help to make clear what now you do not know. (Rembrandt)

11. Draw your pleasure, paint your pleasure, and express your pleasure strongly. (Pierre Bonnard)

12. Only love interests me, and I am only in contact with things I love. (Marc Chagall)

13. I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best. (Frida Khalo)

14. I wished to suggest by means of a simple nude, a certain long-lost barbaric luxury. (Paul Gauguin)

15. Painting is a blind man's profession. He paints not what he sees, but what he feels, what he tells himself about what he has seen. (Pablo Picasso)

16. I think a single sentence by Van Gogh is better than the whole work of all the art critics and art historians put together. (John Olsen)

17. I tend to like things that already exist. (Jasper Johns)

18. I dream of painting and then I paint my dream. (Vincent Van Gogh)

19. The portrait is one of the most curious art forms. It demands special qualities in the artist, and an almost total kinship with the model. (Matisse)

20. There are two things in the painter, the eye and the mind; each of them should aid the other.(Cezanne)

21. A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art. (Cezanne)

22. It is still color, it is not yet light. (Pierre Bonnard)

23.  It is not enough to give signals. Things can only ever last if they have functioned as signs. (Enzo Cucchi)

24. A painting that is well composed is half finished. (Pierre Bonnard)

25. Modern art is what happens when painters stop looking at girls and persuade themselves that they have a better idea. (John Ciardi)

26. Painting is just another way of keeping a diary. (Pablo Picasso)

27. Painting completed my life. (Frida Kahlo)

28. I have a horror of people who speak about the beautiful. What is the beautiful? One must speak of problems in painting! (Pablo Picasso)

29. Painting is damned difficult - you always think you've got it, but you haven't. (Paul Cezanne)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

From Where the Lilies Bloom - A Novel by Vera and Bill Cleaver

Spring is a wondrous necessity. I thought it would never come. I thought the hoary winter would never leave us. At night, after the others had gone to bed, I would go outside and stand in the snow and look out across the hard, white fields and think. This year it won’t come. Only a miracle could bring it. It’s such an old story, spring. Surely the earth must be tired of having to produce it year after year. These mountains are reckoned to be two billion, five hundred million years old. Surely the earth must be tired of supporting them. Spring won’t come again. How can it? Everything is so frozen. Romey was right; this is forgotten land. The Lord has forgotten us. We are forgotten people.

Shivering, not so much with the cold as with my thoughts, I would walk around the house and out to the gate and stand leaning against it and look up at Sugar Boy and Old Joshua. And I would think, They’re never going to be green again. It had to come to an end sometime. This is probably the year for it.

Such childish thoughts those were and wasted ones. For the spring came as it always did, silently unfolding, pushing, pulling, budding, splitting.

Flushed with this rebirth Trial Valley turned tender green. The air softened and the warblers came, a great, showy wave of them, flashing down into the valley, singing, darting, flitting from tree to bush and back again, all so curious and alive and glad to be home.

The juncos came out of their hiding places in the woods and perched on our fence and trilled their sweet bell-songs. All of the birds came back; the flickers, the robins, the goldfinches, all of them.

Before the trees put on full leaf the wild flowers bloomed: bloodroot, lady slippers, trillium, trout lilies, fawn lilies, and the dainty, nodding lilies-of-the-valley. The “sarvice” trees—correctly known to some as shadbush or service trees—flowered downy-white on the slopes of Old Joshua and Sugar Boy.

This was spring in Trial Valley, the season of the bountiful bud.

On a Saturday morning Romey, Ima Dean, and I went across the fields to Trial Creek and followed it up to where the balm of Gilead trees grew sixty to one hundred feet high. Ima Dean held our basket and Romey and I hooked the branches with our rakes, pulling them down, to reach the oblong, waxy buds. The oozing wax from them turned our fingers sticky and yellow. The sun was in our eyes and in our mouths. We went from tree to tree and filled the basket. In the way of mountain people Romey and Ima Dean persisted in calling the buds “bammy Gillet.” They wouldn’t heed my correction, just laughed at it and said how stuck up I was.

We talked about the days to come, how busy we would be with our harvesting. Across the creek in a marshy hollow there was a patch of skunk cabbage, green and shinny, its ovate leaves already a foot high. The roots and rootsticks of these plants were worth money. On another day we would be back for them. And yet on another we would follow the stream down to where the graceful black willows grew. The fluffy catkins of these yield pollen.

In the days to come we would gather blue pimpernel, wild indigo, mayapple, maypop, sweet elder, horse nettle berries, catnip and sassafras leaves. We would go out with our wagon and our book and our digging and cutting tools and bring home boneset herbs and red clover flowers. We would dig for hellebore, hydrangea, butterfly, and blue cohosh roots. We would gather log moss and dry it. We would harvest sumac and black haw and fringe tree bark. There was so much of this we would do and so many different names I cannot tell them all here. The mountains and valleys of North Carolina are rich in these wild medicine plants. We discovered them and it was a fine education.

Bertrand Russell - Selected Quotes

Bertrand Russell

A happy life must be to a great extent a quiet life, for it is only in an atmosphere of quiet that true joy dare live.

No one gossips about other people's secret virtues.

Many people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so.

A process which led from the amoeba to man appeared to the philosophers to be obviously a progress though whether the amoeba would agree with this opinion is not known.

To teach how to live without certainty and yet without being paralysed by hesitation is perhaps the chief thing that philosophy, in our age, can do for those who study it.

We are faced with the paradoxical fact that education has become one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of thought.

A sense of duty is useful in work but offensive in personal relations. People wish to be liked, not to be endured with patient resignation.

Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate.

Awareness of universals is called conceiving, and a universal of which we are aware is called a concept.

Marriage is for women the commonest mode of livelihood, and the total amount of undesired sex endured by women is probably greater in marriage than in prostitution.

Aristotle could have avoided the mistake of thinking that women have fewer teeth than men, by the simple device of asking Mrs. Aristotle to keep her mouth open while he counted.

Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.

Conventional people are roused to fury by departure from convention, largely because they regard such departure as a criticism of themselves.

Drunkenness is temporary suicide.

I say quite deliberately that the Christian religion, as organized in its Churches, has been and still is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world.

If there were in the world today any large number of people who desired their own happiness more than they desired the unhappiness of others, we could have a paradise in a few years.

In America everybody is of the opinion that he has no social superiors, since all men are equal, but he does not admit that he has no social inferiors, for, from the time of Jefferson onward, the doctrine that all men are equal applies only upwards, not downwards.

Italy, and the spring and first love all together should suffice to make the gloomiest person happy.

Love is something far more than desire for sexual intercourse; it is the principal means of escape from the loneliness which afflicts most men and women throughout the greater part of their lives.

Next to enjoying ourselves, the next greatest pleasure consists in preventing others from enjoying themselves, or, more generally, in the acquisition of power.

No; we have been as usual asking the wrong question. It does not matter a hoot what the mockingbird on the chimney is singing. The real and proper question is: Why is it beautiful?

The infliction of cruelty with a good conscience is a delight to moralists. That is why they invented Hell.

One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important.

To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead.